Why It Pays To Have Balls Of Steel

In the hot air balloon high above Boulder

This morning as the boys were getting ready for school, I finally got the chance to watch a video clip of Felix Baumgartner‘s record breaking skydive, which actually happened yesterday. (I’m always behind the times.) I will never understand people like Felix, daredevils who need to be doing the next big thing. I mean, I’m all for testing your limits and pushing yourself, but parachuting from the stratosphere seems to go a wee bit beyond sane. He jumped from 24 miles above Earth’s surface. His free fall lasted for 4 minutes and 20 seconds. At one point, he was spinning wildly out of control at 833 miles an hour. I can only shake my head as I think about it. The man must have balls of steel, which would explain why he fell about a hundred miles an hour faster than he thought he would and was able to break three world records.

On the drive to school, I let the boys watch the video on my iPhone.

“He broke the speed of sound with his body,” I told them. “Sixty five years to the day after Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in a jet. It’s unbelievable,” I said. Still amazed.

“That’s crazy,” Joe said. “What if his parachute hadn’t opened?”

“Well, he wouldn’t have felt a thing,” I replied.

“Why would someone do that?” Joe asked. “Too many things could go wrong. Sometimes parachutes don’t open. I wouldn’t even want to jump out of a moving airplane. I’d never jump from outer space.”

“I think I’d like to skydive,” I told them, “but not from that high up.”

“You can’t skydive,” Joe said. “You’re our mom.”

“Moms can skydive,” I told him.

“What if something happened to you? We’d have no mom. We’d cry all the time,” Joe said. “You don’t get to skydive. We won’t let you.”

“Wait,” Luke chimed in. “Mom…you could do indoor skydiving. We’d let you do that.”

“It’s not really up to you guys, but I appreciate your concern,” I told them.

“Mom…would you jump with some other person attached?” Joe asked.

“Yes. I would do a tandem jump with an experienced skydiver. They wear the chute and deploy it. I’d just be along for the ride.”

“Okay. Well, I guess we could let you do that. But, you only get to jump if you go with a licensed professional,” Joe informed me.

A licensed professional? Where does this kid get this stuff?

I have thought about doing a skydive. The entire idea is quite ridiculous when you consider how afraid of heights I am. But, jumping from a perfectly good airplane is something I’ve long thought I should do. Perhaps I figure that maybe a skydive will make me less fearful of heights. My hot air balloon trip last year, which took us 4,000 feet up without parachutes, tested that same theory. However, climbing toward the top of Grays Peak this year, I determined the fear was still present. I told my sons that everyone has to die of something. If I’m skydiving and my chute doesn’t work, at least I will have died doing something interesting instead of having a stroke while watching LOST reruns and later being found stiff and lifeless in my bed. I don’t have balls of steel (I don’t even have balls, contrary to what some people who know me believe), but I’m going to die of something someday anyway. When I get to that point, years and years after I’ve jumped from a perfectly good airplane, at least I’ll have something interesting to look back on as my life flashes before my eyes. At least, that’s what I tell myself when I consider finding my inner daredevil.

 

 

Growing A Spine ~ One Vertebrae At A Time

The drink that nearly caused me a stroke.

Yesterday I wrote about a big risk I’ve decided to take. But, as I was thinking this morning about the steps to becoming a braver, better me, I was confronted by the stark reality that it is honestly easier for me to take a big or foolish risk than it is for me to take a small and relatively painless one. Allow me to elucidate. This morning, I went for an inline skate. After about 9 miles on my wheels, I was hot, tired, and in need of a pick-me-up. I decided a trip to Starbucks was in order. I got back into my car and began rifling through my wallet to see how much cash I had. That’s when I saw it. A gold star card for a free drink. I looked into my crystal ball and spied a Venti Cool Lime Refresher in my immediate future. Come to mama, you green coffee goodness. Then, I flipped the card over. It expired on May 15th. Dammit.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right for thinking it. You’re thinking So what? Ask if you can use it anyway. Right? But, I am a rule follower, and I’m averse to small and completely harmless risks. Need someone to stand on a broken swivel chair on a concrete floor to retrieve a crate of broken glass on a high shelf? That I would do for you without a second thought because I’m not a worrier. I stand on swivel chairs all the time. (Sorry, Officer Buckle.) But, ask the clerk at Chipotle if they’d be willing to donate to the school’s annual silent auction? I’d get the cold sweats before breaking out in hives. Merely to attempt something like that I would need to consume several shots of high-quality vodka, and I’m not sure that’s the right way for a mom to go about asking for donations for a Christian academy’s silent auction.

I attribute this paralyzing fear of small risks to my parents who taught me not to be a bother. I can’t tell you how many times while growing up I was informed that “Children should be seen and not heard.” I was a good kid. I listened to them. I never questioned authority. I never broke a rule. I didn’t even ditch on Senior Ditch Day. You know that squeaky wheel? I was not it. I’m still that way, although I wish I wasn’t.

I sat staring at the card in my hand. Over three months expired. Not a day or two but THREE long months. I found a $10 bill in my wallet and an unused Starbucks gift card. I didn’t need to risk the humiliation of having a clerk tell me they couldn’t accept my free drink coupon. I would just pay for it. End of story. I started my car and put it in drive. Then I thought about Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote: “Do the thing you think you cannot do.” I’d never asked anyone before if I could use an expired coupon. It seemed so brazen. Could I do it? The internal struggle between my rule-following brain and my wanna-be brave soul reached a deafening crescendo in my head.

Finally, I decided. I would not let Eleanor down. I needed to look my fear, sad and stupid as it might seem, in the face. I went to Starbucks, ordered my drink, and handed the gal my expired coupon. I’d thought about going into a long explanation about how I’d just found it buried under a pile of papers in my house and could I please use it even thought it was expired, but decided instead just to hand it to her as if it were no big deal. Sure enough. It was no big deal. She handed me my drink, told me to have a nice day, and I pulled away from the drive-thru window feeling like Bonnie minus Clyde. I know that you must think I am certifiable. You have a fair case. Just remember that everyone has their demons to face. Mine are small and silly, and I think I prefer them that way.

Do The Thing You Think You Cannot Do: A Coward’s Guide To Becoming Brave

Me with the lovely and talented Miss Vivienne VaVoom

Last weekend I had the opportunity to hear New York Times best-selling author Richard Paul Evans speak. Although he’s sold millions of copies of his books, I’d never read one of them so I had no idea what to expect from his speech or what, if anything, I might glean from it to help me on my own personal book journey. He spoke about the realm of self-publishing and what it takes these days to become a best-selling author. He was engaging and personable, full of positive energy and self-confidence, which is probably how he has gotten as far as he has because publishing is a difficult business that can diminish even the bravest souls. I watched him carefully, trying to determine if I had the same chutzpah he does, wondering if I could be bold. Then, he made a statement that caught my attention: “Every time I take risks, my life gets better.”

I’ve been repeating that statement to myself for five days now. As it has flipped over and over in my head like a rock in a tumbler, it has become shinier and brighter and more attention worthy. Life does get better when we take risks. We get nowhere when we are cautious or fearful. We stagnate when fail to use our imagination. The accomplishments in my life of which I am most proud were only realized after I’d been willing to move in a direction that made me uncomfortable in some way. I probably haven’t been uncomfortable enough often enough.

But, there have been moments when I did take what I felt was a personal risk. At those times, I’ve definitely come away a better person than I was before I began. I once took a dance class from burlesque queen Vivenne VaVoom. This required me to rehearse, create a costume and persona, and perform for an audience. I became much more self-confident after that exposure. And, there was my master’s thesis. It was a three year ordeal that I nearly didn’t finish because I had a child and then became pregnant with child number two. All the while my yet incomplete thesis postured on my desk and hurled taunts at me: You’re not good enough. No one really cares what you have to say, anyway. You think you’re special or something? Still, I pushed myself. I wrote while my son sat in his exersaucer in the room with me. I edited while he slept. I wrote four rough drafts before my thesis director was ready to let me defend. I flew back to Illinois for my defense, pregnant and nauseous, but I at last earned my master’s degree. In doing so, I learned that even with kids I could accomplish goals I set.

Now, I prepare for another uncomfortable risk as I stand on the precipice of authorship. It’s scary up here. I’ve started writing, but I’m not sure if I’m heading in the right direction. I do know, though, that my life will not get better if I don’t take this risk. Still, I’m talking to myself a lot to steel my nerves: You can do this. You’ve got it in you. Believe in yourself.  The part of me that is angry with myself for not taking this risk sooner gets a regular backhanded smack from the part of me that knows that I could not have attempted this in my 20’s because I wasn’t brave enough then. I needed these extra 20 years to set down firm roots so I could begin to inch ever so slowly up and out of myself. Above my head at my writing desk is this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face…do the thing you think you cannot do.” Writing a book has always been the one thing I was sure I could not do. I wanted to do it. I just didn’t think I could. I’m setting out and taking a risk to prove myself wrong and to create a better, stronger, wiser me.

What is the thing you have told yourself that you cannot do? Are you brave enough to risk it to see if your life gets better? What is one risk you have taken that made your life better? Please share your stories because I need all the inspiration I can get as I continue this journey.

The Way To Imagine Dragons

This is the way I need to imagine my dragon.

For most of my life, I thought that I would eventually attempt to write something “serious,” a non-fiction book, a screenplay, a novel, something. After writing my master’s thesis and giving birth to two children, though, that idea sounded less and less appealing. The master’s thesis itself, with its research and approvals and four revisions, had soured me on the writing process and convinced me that in no way would a PhD behind my name be worth the effort. Add two small boys to the mixture and writing became a Herculean task. I didn’t have the time, energy, or interest in such a crazy dream.

As time passed, though, the memory of the hellish thesis passed, the boys grew bigger and started school, and the thought of writing something just to prove I could do it crept back into my head. To that end, on May 7th I wrote a rough draft prologue for a story that I’ve had in my head for years. I finished it. I filed it. I mostly forgot about it because summer vacation started for my boys and I had no energy for creativity while wrestling monkeys. This morning, however, I did something I haven’t done in months. I actually sat down and wrote a bit of fiction. It felt good. Even though it wasn’t part of what I started in May, it felt like progress.

It’s too easy to make excuses when it comes to writing. It’s too easy to claim you’re too busy or have writer’s block. It’s too easy to work on your blog and ignore the larger, scarier, meatier item with fangs that you know is waiting in the wings for you. But, with each passing day that fanged creature just gets bigger and more intimidating. The only way to slay that ugly beast is to face it, to chop it up piece by piece, until it’s no more than a darling little kitten that inspires you to play. I tend to bite off more than I can chew and then stare at what I’ve undertaken with trepidation. I begin to doubt that I will ever be able to accomplish what I’ve set forth for myself. I make it seem insurmountable and so I procrastinate and hide.

I know I’ve got it in me. I know I do. The difference between writers who have already published and me lies in effort. They made the commitment to themselves and to their craft. They slayed excuses and conquered their dragon. It’s time for me to sharpen my sword and go into battle. That beast won’t kill itself.

The Difference Between A Rut And A Grave

My brand-new, 13 year old Kona mountain bike gets a rest while I hydrate.

“The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.”  ~Ellen Glasgow

I haven’t ridden my mountain bike on a singletrack trail in about seven years. This morning, in desperate need of exercise but short on time, I decided I would ride the six-mile, singletrack loop on the open space park behind our home. I used to be slightly more experienced at negotiating the rocks and bumps on a mountain bike trail. I used to have a bit more confidence about it too. Although I’ve ridden over 900 miles so far this year, these have been road bike or trainer miles. And those, as you can imagine, feel very different than mountain bike miles. This morning I might as well have been piloting a moon rover over the pitted surface of that hard, space rock. I felt lost.

All the time I’ve spent in the bike saddle this year kept me from becoming winded on the incline part of the ride today, but that’s the only thing my training prepared me for. I forgot how freaking bumpy the bike feels on a rocky path. I forgot how my hands get tired from the tighter grip I need to keep on the handlebars while negotiating the twists, turns, and obstacles along the way. I forgot the nerve that’s required when you see what lies a head of you. I forgot how your personal space is invaded by plants that brush you as you ride and remind you how narrow your path is. Aside from the two-wheeled mode of transport and the basic skill of balancing on a bike long enough to propel it forward, these sports seemed very far apart from each other this morning. If road biking is a cheetah (or, in my case, maybe a blind, three-legged cheetah), then mountain biking is a mountain goat (or in my case, a blind, three-legged mountain goat).

I had to rediscover some things on the ride, like that I’m not currently coordinated enough to ride and drink while on a singletrack trail. This is why it would have been worth it to pull my Camelback out of storage. But, the most important thing I remembered is that to be successful while mountain biking you have to trust yourself and your bike. You have to believe that the bike will carry you over the obstacles and that you will be able to control it when it does. The problem for me is that trust is not ever been something I’ve excelled at. I’m suspicious. I’m cautious. I’m a recovering control freak. I’ve been conditioned to eliminate the variables to create a smooth journey. But, mountain biking is not a smooth journey.

The more I thought about it on the much less tenuous descent toward home, the more I realized that I need to work toward becoming a better mountain biker because those skills are skills I need in my every day life. I need to trust. I need to believe. I need to push myself just a little bit further than I’m comfortable with because I can do it if I just try. You can only grow if you ask yourself to move beyond the grooves you’ve worn into your daily existence. Once you jump the boundary and veer ever-so-slightly off course, things change. You change.

I’m going to get myself some clipless pedals and fun mountain bike shoes and start pushing myself a bit more to ride that singletrack trail behind my house. Maybe if I do I’ll become confident enough to try other nearby trails and branch out. And, if I can do that, I’m fairly certain I will grow enough spine to try other new challenges as well. This morning, I felt lost while out on that six-mile loop. Sometimes, though, being lost can remind you how it feels to stop going through the motions and actually live.

An Unexamined Life Might Be More Fun

Me and Heather acting a bit goofy at the Polar Plunge last year.

My friend Tracy posted this quote: “Don’t take yourself so seriously. Nobody else does.” I’ve heard this before and there hasn’t been a day of my life when it hasn’t applied to me. I was raised by parents who were always asking me to behave a particular way, not to get in the way of anyone or be a bother, and not to (under any circumstances) be an embarrassment to myself or anyone else. When you’re raised with those messages, you become a bit serious about just how important you are in the grand scheme of things.

Truth is, though, everyone is mostly concerned with themselves. At a party, most people are only interested in how they look, what they say, and how they appear to others. And, if we’re all so wrapped up in what’s going on with us, we’re not spending a lot of time paying attention to others. When I think about the people I know who live a life not too serious, I only regard them with admiration. I often wished I was a bit more open to life and joyful, less timid and fearful. Okay. Sometimes maybe I would roll my eyes when my friend did something goofy in public, but I was secretly wishing I could let go once in a while like that.

I’m getting better with this idea. I will probably go to my grave without ever being labeled a free spirit, but I’ve taken the first step. I no longer think anyone is watching me or sizing up my behavior because I understand that most people can’t see past the end of their own nose. I also no longer truly care if they are watching me, scrutinizing my actions, or judging me. Let them look. This is my journey and I’m doing the best with it that I can. Now, if I could just convince myself that I don’t care if I’m acting like a jackass, then I’d really be getting somewhere.

 

 

Life On The Edge

The perfect ride I could have missed.

I’ve never been much of a risk taker, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve begun to be a bit less cautious. I don’t know if that’s because with experience I’ve learned that I have often avoided things that turned out to be no big deal or if it’s because I’m older and figure I’m going to die anyway so what the heck? Either way, I definitely throw caution to the wind more often than I used to. Most of the time it pays off.

Take today, for example. It was a perfect day for a bike ride. I mean, picture perfect. Clear, deep blue sky. 65 degree temps. Light breeze. Amazing. It would have been criminal to ride indoors. My road bike desperately needs new tires after 700 miles on the trainer this spring, so I had to pull my mountain bike out of the garage. Years ago, hubby and I took the knobby tires off it and replaced them with touring tires so I could more easily pull the kids in the bike trailer with it. Still, I figured the tires should be able to hold up to some light mountain biking on dirt roads, right? Before leaving the house, I desperately tried to locate all the necessary tire changing materials (including a tube that would fit the touring tires) just in case. No luck. I decided to go anyway. The day was too nice to waste. I would take the risk, figuring that the worst that could happen is that I could end up having to walk home with a flat.

I rode out of our neighborhood and down into the state park across the street and hopped onto a dirt trail that leads to a nearby Audubon Society nature area. From there, I rode about two-tenths of a mile to the dirt road that runs up Waterton Canyon where I have hiked with my boys for years. The road travels about 6.5 miles up before you reach Strontia Springs Dam and a hop-on point for the Colorado Trail. It’s 5 miles from our house to the entrance to Waterton Canyon. I figured I’d ride up a couple miles only and that way if I ended up with a flat it would be just a short walk back to the entrance of the canyon where hopefully some nice fellow biker with a vehicle in the parking lot would be able to offer me a four mile ride back to the entrance to our neighborhood. But, damn, if the day wasn’t just too nice to stop two miles up. I was feeling great, so I kept riding. I rode 5 miles up. Then it occurred to me that if something happened at that point, it would be a 10-mile walk home. I decided a 20-mile round trip ride was good enough and I headed back down the canyon. Why push my luck, right? Of course, nothing bad happened. I got in a ride on a flawless day and was so glad I hadn’t sweat the small stuff and given up before I’d started on the off chance that something could possibly go wrong.

I used to plan my life based on things that might happen. I missed out on a lot of incredible opportunities before it occurred to me that I wasted too much time imagining disasters that never unfolded. Things usually manage to work themselves out. And, even when they don’t, the world doesn’t end. If I’d gotten a flat 5 miles up Waterton, it would have been unpleasant. It would have taken me a long time to get home. I probably would have been fairly cranky, but I would have gotten there and the world would have kept right on revolving. Years from now I’d have nothing left but a faint memory of the difficulty and a funny story to share. Too often we hold ourselves back from things to save ourselves possible trouble or heartache. But, what potential joy have we abandoned by living too cautiously? Yes. Sometimes things go wrong. But, then again, sometimes they don’t. Those are the times when you know with your whole heart how truly amazing life is.

 

Excuses, Excuses

What was that you said I couldn’t do?

 

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”       ~Jim Rohn

My friend Lisa posted this quote on her Facebook wall the other day. I’ve seen it before but never given it much thought, probably because I’ve never thought of myself as an excuse gal. I like to believe that, as a rule, I make things that I want come to fruition. I am determined by nature. Tell me I can’t do something. I’d love to prove you wrong.

In high school, our marching band was going to a competition in Florida over Spring Break. I wanted to go to Florida. I didn’t play a musical instrument, though. Problem, right? Wrong. The band needed a cymbal player. I could play cymbals. I mean, how hard could it be? Well, I don’t read music of any sort, including percussion music. Problem, right? Wrong. I simply got a recording of the songs we were going to play and memorized where the cymbal crashes occurred. I can walk and chew gum at the same time, so marching in formation while banging some cymbals together would be no problem for me. I was golden. So, I went to Florida with the band. I marched. I splashed in the Gulf of Mexico. I got a ridiculously painful sunburn. I went on a Journey Into Imagination at Epcot Center. It was awesome, and well worth the very early morning band practices on a cold, frost-covered field in Castle Rock.

Thinking back to the quote, though, if I’m honest with myself I must admit there have been a few times when I made excuses about things I should have attempted to achieve. I choose not to acknowledge those times, however, because I don’t consider them to be traditional excuses. I know this sounds like semantics, but it’s not. Here’s why. Sometimes an unconscious lack of confidence in my abilities convinces me that I cannot reach a particular goal. Because I inherently know I can achieve anything I want, my brain simply chooses not to want things I’m convinced I could never achieve. It lets me off the hook. I don’t have to find a way to do something if I convince myself I never wanted to do it in the first place. It’s an incredibly brilliant rationalization, but a rationalization all the same.

The reason I bring this up is because of my recent decision to brave my fears and attempt to write something other than a blog. If I’m being honest with myself, I’ve always wanted to be published…and not just by myself on a page I slapped up onto the Internet or via a bound copy of my master’s thesis housed in the library at Illinois State University. I’ve always wanted it. I’ve just never believed I was capable of it.

When I started this blog back in January and committed to writing every single day without fail, I thought I was doing it to get back into writing, something I’d given up when my oldest son was born almost 11 years ago. What I didn’t imagine, however, was that by practicing writing I would find some measure of confidence in myself. By writing every day, I was able to overcome my self-imposed road block. I realize now that the only current difference between me and published authors is that they tried and I did not. I may not write the next classic American novel. I may not become the next J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins. But, I will never know for sure what I might be if I refuse to allow myself the opportunity to find a way to do the thing I have forever longed to do. I look at it differently now. That is all that has changed. If I try, I might fail. But, if I don’t try, I will have sold myself short. That, I now believe, is a far worse fate than failure.

Stranger Things

The reason I now have an excuse to stay home and write.

“It’s not who you are that holds you back but who you think you are not. Judging yourself is not the same as being honest with yourself. You are capable of great things.”

A friend posted this quote on her page today. I can’t stop thinking about it. Oh, how guilty I am of this transgression against myself. I all too often judge myself harshly in the name of being honest with myself. I am a person who learned early on that it’s better to prepare for the worst so you’re not disappointed than to hope for the best and fall flat. It’s such a sick, self-defeating attitude, one I’m sure that has kept me from stretching outside my comfort zone and achieving more for myself on occasion.

I had a conversation with a friend recently that bothered me. We’ve known each other a long time and, as with most long-term friendships, we’ve both changed over the years. I realized as we were talking that my friend was somewhat disappointed in me because I have made choices that have kept me from becoming what I had sworn when I was younger I would become. In his mind, I’ve settled and am not living up to my full potential. (Sorry. I sounded like an episode of Lego Ninjago, there.) I first felt insulted, then angry at him for judging me, and then sad because there is a definite part of me that knows on some level he is right.

I have spent many years selling myself short. When people would ask me what I do I would tell them I’m a stay-at-home mom. I would say it apologetically, convinced that my position made me unworthy of interest. When they then reacted according to my own boredom with my situation, I’d become indignant and hurt that they were not interested in me. But, honestly, how could they be interested in my life when even I wasn’t? I was judging myself for my own perceived failure to achieve a successful career, and then I was projecting my frustration onto them. They were simply following my lead. Staying at home with my sons was a choice, a choice I would make again because I like knowing that I am their go-to person. I don’t think I could have handed them over to anyone else. I don’t think it’s in my nature. I am where I am because I chose this path. So, why do I expend so much energy feeling bad about what I am not and what I have not achieved in terms of a career?

Instead of feeling bad about not having a paying career right now, I need to look at things differently. I have the freedom to stay home and work on the book I always hoped I would write someday. “Someday” just became today. And, instead of depressing myself with the enormity of the task of writing and publishing a book, I’m going to put on my best Tony Robbins and imagine myself on a book tour, signing copies of my story. Why not? Stranger things have happened. Hell… my husband, who has had infinite faith in me from the very beginning, has already started discussing what we should do when the royalties start coming in. Now, that’s the kind of positivity I should get behind. 😉

 

Fasten Your Seatbelts

I feel like today is the first day of the rest of my life.

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”         ~Lao Tzu

You know that thing? The one you’ve always thought you should do but it seemed so daunting, so arduous, so clearly out of left field that you couldn’t bring yourself to attempt it? Well, I’ve made a decision about that thing. I’m going to do it. Today I started the wheels in motion and now there’s no turning back. Everything I’ve done up until now has led me to this point, and that’s how I know this is what I am supposed to do.

Today I made a commitment to myself to start writing with an end-goal in mind. For as long as I can remember, I’ve known I would eventually try to write something “real” and, by “real,” I mean publishable. Yes. I publish these words on my blog on the Internet, but I’m talking about something more substantial, like a book of some sort. Yes. I have a bound Master’s Thesis collecting dust on a shelf at Illinois State University, but that’s not the type of book I’m referring to either. I’m talking about something even more substantial than that 80-page paper. The idea has been germinating in my head for a year and I’ve been rolling it around on my tongue to get used to the sound of it, and today I decided I can’t put it off any longer.

On the advice of a friend, I’ve registered for a one-day, informational seminar and networking opportunity for current and prospective authors. It’s going to be my jumping off point, the official launch into my future. And, I can’t tell you how much I am filled with terror right now, facing the thing I wasn’t sure I was brave enough to attempt. Whether I will walk away from this event with useful information or merely with the experience itself, I’m taking a step in a direction I’ve been meaning to head in for a while. It could be a bumpy ride. I sort of feel like I’m in that incredibly creepy, psychedelic scene from the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the one where Willy Wonka sings about not knowing exactly where they’re going. For a while there, the passengers are nervous and fearful, but I figure if they came out of the tunnel just fine, with Willy Wonka at the helm no less, then I should be fine too.